New experiment designed to uncover the mysteries of dark energy finds it is NOT an elusive ‘fifth force’ as some have proposed
- A new experiment found dark energy is not the fifth fundamental force
- It disproves a theory that posits that dark energy weakens around more matter
- Scientists believed dark energy could be accelerating the universe’s expansion
- While the study didn’t affirm the theory it has narrowed the possibilities
After a fruitless experiment, the search for the mysterious dark energy will continue.
Proving the existence of dark energy has long been an elusive quest for scientists who say that the unobserved substance is responsible for one of the universe’s biggest mysteries.
Scientists have posited that the expansion of our universe, which inexplicably continues to accelerate as opposed to slow down, is due to the existence of dark energy.
Dark matter, scientists hypothesize, accounts for the fact that objects on the outer rim of the galaxy move faster than the mass of normal matter dictates
In a theory called ‘fifth force,’ some have hypothesized that dark energy is the remaining unknown fundamental force. These are currently known to be gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces.
The theory also posits that dark energy may work in the opposite way of gravitational forces, meaning it became stronger when operating in the vast vacuum of space away from other objects.
To test that hypothesis, scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham in the UK, observed a metal sphere inside of a lab-created vacuum using what’s known as an atom interferometer.
Here they were able to watch how individual atoms behave within the chamber.
If dark energy were acting as the so-called fifth force, the scientists would expect to see atoms change paths as they approached the sphere, however, inside they observed no such phenomenon.
Scientists used a special chamber to monitor atoms as they interacted with a metal sphere positioned in the middle
While the experiment may not have affirmed theories about dark energy, scientists say they have helped to whittle down possibilities.
‘This experiment, connecting atomic physics and cosmology, has allowed us to rule out a wide class of models that have been proposed to explain the nature of dark energy, and will enable us to constrain many more dark energy models,’ said Professor Ed Hinds from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.
In a major win for proponents of the existence of dark matter — dark energies equally as mysterious counterpart — scientists say they’ve successfully disproved theories of the universe that preclude it.
WHAT IS DARK MATTER?
Dark matter is a hypothetical substance said to make up roughly 27 per cent of the universe.
The enigmatic material is invisible because it does not reflect light, and has never been directly observed by scientists.
Astronomers know it to be out there because of its gravitational effects on known matter.
The European Space Agency says: ‘Shine a torch in a completely dark room, and you will see only what the torch illuminates.
Dark matter is a hypothetical substance said to make up roughly 27 per cent of the universe. It is thought to be the gravitational ‘glue’ that holds the galaxies together (artist’s impression)
‘That does not mean that the room around you does not exist.
‘Similarly we know dark matter exists but have never observed it directly.’
The material is thought to be the gravitational ‘glue’ that holds the galaxies together.
Calculations show that many galaxies would be torn apart instead of rotating if they weren’t held together by a large amount of dark matter.
Just five per cent the observable universe consists of known matter such as atoms and subatomic particles.